Members of Parliament received as little as Sh10,000 in the toilets to shoot down a controversial sugar report, a House committee was told yesterday.
Other legislators were handed bribes in Parliament’s new restaurant and car park ahead of the chaotic afternoon session that saw the report on the sugar scandal, which was prepared by members of a joint Agriculture and Trade committee, defeated on the floor of the House.
Gathoni wa Muchomba (Kiambu) and Ayub Savula (Lugari) told the Powers and Privileges committee chaired by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi that they witnessed money exchanging hands minutes to the sitting.
Ms Muchomba narrated to the team how she followed fellow woman representatives to the ladies’ toilets and to her shock, found them discussing the amounts each had been given.
But she said she could not identify the members who shared the cash in the toilets, stating that they were inside the cubicles and she could only listen to their conversations.
“When I went for lunch, I started seeing members trooping to the new restaurant. They came back excited and a member told me to get my ‘greeting’,” she told the committee.
“When I went to the toilet, I heard people saying they had been given Sh10,000 by (Wajir Woman Representative) Fatuma Gedi to shoot down the sugar report. Another responded, ‘She should have given you Sh30,000.’ Some were even saying they had been given money for other members.”
Muchomba claimed her colleagues refused to come out of the cubicles when they realised she was waiting to see who they were.
The Kiambu woman rep further claimed that another colleague shouted at her, “Hii pesa si ya mama yako (this money is not your mother’s)!”
Appearing before the Mr Muturi’s team, Mr Savula said the sugar report was compromised at committee level.
He said there were tell-tale signs that some members were using the report for rent-seeking, citing claims of ‘cosiness’ between some of the witnesses and committee members.
“When (Jaswant) Rai appeared, they were lining up to shake his hands. Have you seen a judge leave his seat to go hug a suspect? I am still extremely bitter with this Parliament,” said Savula.
But Ms Gedi, who was also adversely mentioned by Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa in a previous sitting as having attempted to bribe him with Sh10,000, denied the allegations.
Gedi told the committee that the claims were made out of malice to soil her reputation.
She, however, admitted to having lobbied MPs to shoot down the sugar report because she had reservations about the recommendations that indicted East African Commission and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed (who was then Trade Cabinet secretary) and his National Treasury colleague Henry Rotich.
She claimed the joint committee was itself conflicted, adding that co-chairs Kanini Kega (Kieni) and Adan Ali Haji (Mandera South) were divided over the final report.
Gedi said she had never interacted with Barasa and only came to know him after he was quoted in the media accusing her of bribing MPs to defeat the sugar report.
“The allegations by Barasa about me are false. I did not bribe any single member in the House. As a new MP, I could not bribe people. Where would I get that kind of money to bribe 349 MPs?
David Gikaria (Nakuru East) and Joseph Tonui (Kuresoi North) also appeared before the committee but denied any knowledge of bribery in the House during the vote.
They urged the committee to punish lawmakers who made claims that they could not substantiate.
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